Tag Archives: live

liveslak-1.3.0 with speed improvements

blueSW-64pxThere was no August release of a Plasma5 Live ISO as you will probably have noticed. The reason was that around the time when I released the August update of Plasma5 for Slackware, I was working on new liveslak functionality and wanted to finish that before releasing new ISOs. The testing took some more time than I anticipated due to increased work load in my day job. But I finished what I wanted to have in a new liveslak release, and today I want to write a post about the new stuff.

To accompany the new liveslak-1.3.0 I have uploaded fresh ISO images for the Slackware Live Edition. They are based on the latest Slackware-current dated “Fri Sep 7 23:00:06 UTC 2018″.
The available ISO variants on https://slackware.nl/slackware-live/latest/ are:

  • Full unmodified Slackware (64bit).
  • Stripped-down XFCE (32bit as well as 64bit), this ISO will fit on a CDROM medium.
  • Slackware with MATE 1.20 instead of KDE4 (64bit). Thanks to Willy Sudiarto Raharjo for the packaging.
  • Slackware with Plasma 5 instead of KDE4 (64bit) to showcase the KDE Plasma 5_18.09 desktop. This ISO also contains Calibre 3.30.0, Chromium 69, LibreOffice 6.1.0, and VLC 3.0.4 among many others.

The new liveslak version 1.3.0 has several memorable updates:

  • Support for a new compression tool ‘zstd’ that will increase the speed of extracting squashfs modules greatly (and ‘paying’ for the increased decompression speed with an increase of compressed size with around 10%). The “make_slackware_live.sh” script was enhanced with a new commandline parameter “-c” with which you can indicate a non-default compressor (xz being the default and zstd, gzip, lzo as the alternatives).
    Raw decompression speed is up to 5 times faster using zstd compared with an xz-compressed squashfs modules, but due to the nature of the storage medium, OS kernel and program execution times, the observed speed gains for the actual Slackware Live Edition vary from 20% to 80%. Largest speed gains are found when you boot a Live ISO in a virtual machine; the smallest speed gains will be found when you boot Slackware Live from a USB medium where the medium’s read speed is the limiting factor.
  • During ISO creation you can now specify your own custom default country/language. The script default is still “us” but you can select any of the other languages that are supported on boot, for instance to have a Live OS that boots into German localization and language settings without any input.
    A new commandline parameter “-l” to the “make_slackware_live.sh” script enables you to specify the ISO default language.
  • Due to changes in package lists (mostly adding new packages introduced in slackware-current) make it hard to keep the XFCE ISO below 700 MB. That was not different this time. Continuous pruning in the filesystem is unavoidable. But I think I have reached the limit of what I can cut away in relation to unneeded libraries and stuff. The ever growing footprint of Slackware-current’s applications demands that eventually I may have to start removing complete packages from the XFCE live ISO. Any thoughts as to what you find least relevant in a small ISO? Is it the GCC compiler? Is it the Asian TrueType fonts? Is it Firefox, ImageMagick, …? To me all of those are equally important and yet I may have to decide on their removal eventually.

Compression of the ISOs

I have used ‘zstd’ compression for the SLACKWARE, PLASMA5, MATE ISO images. You will notice substantially reduced boot-up times.
The XFCE images are still compressed with ‘xz’ but as a curious test, I have re-compressed the “min” module of the 64bit XFCE ISO with zstd. That increased its size with 21 MB but it’s still below CDROM size. There is a noticeable speed increase even by just using zstd on the “min” module – I get a 10% faster bootup of the XFCE Live OS in a virtual machine.

In order to keep the PLASMA5 ISO fitting on a DVD, I had to take the multilib module out. If you need multilib in a Slackware Live Edition and you are running it off a USB stick, you can simply download the module from the ‘bonus‘ directory on the mirrror server, and copy it to the “/liveslak/addons/” directory on the Linux partition of the USB stick so that it will load automatically when the Live OS boots.

Wayland?

The ‘testing’ branch in my ‘kown’ repository is currently identical to the ‘latest’ branch, so there is no Wayland support in it now. For a future ‘testing’ release I’ll most likely re-visit Wayland but I want Patrick to add Plasma 5 to Slackware first so I can do my own stuff in just the ‘latest’ branch again and use ‘testing’ for actual tests.

Where to get the ISOs

Some download locations (mirrors may need 24 hours to catch up) for the Live ISOs are:

A copy of the liveslak sources and scripts can be found here:

You can follow the liveslak development in git: https://git.slackware.nl/liveslak/

The use of zstd

The ISO images which I created with zstd compression are all using Slackware-current. Because zstd support for squashfs was added to the Linux 4.14 kernel and Slackware is using these kernels. no modifications were required for the Live ISOs to work with this new compression type. A package for ‘zstd’ or a recompilation of ‘squashfs-tools’ to add zstd support is only needed when creating the ISO. When the Live OS boots, the Linux kernel  takes care of the compressed squashfs filesystem transparently.

In order to extract data from a zstd-compressed squashfs module you will of course need a squashfs-tools package with support for zstd. Therefore I have both a ‘zstd‘ and a ‘squashfs-tools‘ package for Slackware-current in my repository. I am not providing these for Slackware 14.2 because its older kernel (4.4.x) is not supporting zstd anyway.

Refreshing your USB stick instead of re-formatting

If you already use a Slackware Live USB stick that you do not want to re-format, you should use the “-r” parameter to the “iso2usb.sh” script. The “-r” or refresh parameter allows you to refresh the liveslak files on your USB stick without touching your custom content. If you want to modify other parameters of your USB stick, use the script “upslak.sh“. It’s main feature is that it can update the kernel on the USB stick, but it also can replace the Live init script. As with most (if not all) of my scripts, use the “-h” parameter to get help on its functionality.

Historical info on liveslak

More detail about the features of Slackware Live Edition can be found in previous posts here on the blog.

Have fun!

KDE 5_18.07 for Slackware, includes Plasma 5.13.3 and Qt 5.11.1

Last week, Slackware-current updated its poppler package . The ‘ktown’ repository for Plasma5 contains a custom built ‘poppler’ package, one that includes Qt5 support. That means that the ‘ktown’ version needs to be kept in sync with the Slackware version to prevent breakage in your Slackware installation. Therefore I recompiled my ‘poppler’ and at the same time, I used the opportunity to grab all the latest sources from the KDE download server and built a whole new and fresh Plasma5 experience for Slackware.

Important to know is that I have bridged the ‘latest’ repository to the ‘testing’ repository. Meaning: I have said goodbye to the LTS (Long Term Support) versions of Qt5 (5.9.6) and Plasma (5.12) and will focus again on the bleeding edge of KDE’s development.
I did this after talking to Patrick to see what his ideas are about Plasma5 and whether he would adopt LTS releases of the software, or perhaps stick with the latest and greatest. Based on discussions in the LinuxQuestions.org forum it was clear that the latest Qt (5.11) combined with the latest Plasma Desktop (5.13) gets rid of bugs that have been annoying Slackware users who have been installing my ‘ktown’ packages. So that settled it, and the difference between ‘latest’ and ‘testing’ is gone again. In future I will probably use the ‘testing’ repository to test Wayland usability in Slackware, like I did in the past. For that reason, it’s best if you point your package manager (slackpkg+ comes to mind) to the ‘latest‘ URL instead of using the ‘testing‘ URL.

What’s new

If you had not yet installed the Plasma 5.13 from my ‘testing’ repository then you will see a fresh new Plasma Desktop with a lot of visual and under-the-hood changes. Read more about those in the official releasenotes. Highlights:

  • browser integration: you need to install a browser extension from the respective browser web store, and then your Firefox, Chrome or Chromium will be tighter integrated into the desktop. Plasma media playback controls will operate on browser tabs; etcetera.
  • re-designed System Settings
  • re-designed login and lock screens
  • fall-back to software rendering if the OpenGL drivers fail
  • plugging in a new monitor will cause a configuration window to popup

Apart from the new Plasma 5.13.3, the other updated components are Frameworks 5.48.0 and Applications 18.04.3. There’s also some updates in the ‘extras’ section for Applications: I rebuilt ‘calligra’ and ‘kile’ because of the newer poppler library incompatibility and updated ‘krita’ and ‘okteta’ to their latest versions.

Go get it

The KDE-5_18.07 is running smooth & stable here on the Lenovo T460 laptop, and I am interested to hear about your experiences. As always, the README file in the root of the repository will tell you all you need to know about installation or upgrade.

I have updated the ‘qt5’ package in my regular repository to 5.11.1 as well, to prevent surprises when you upgrade to the latest ‘ktown’ but stick with qt5-5.9 by accident, like I did today. That was a bit scary for a moment, seeing the new Desktop Environment break inexplicably on the laptop (I had already tested all of it in a virtual machine).

A new Plasma Live ISO is currently being generated, based on the latest slackware-current with kernel 4.14.59. I hope to upload that one later today so that you can check out the new Plasma Desktop without having to install it to your computer.

New set of Live ISOs

blueSW-64pxI have uploaded a fresh set of ISOs for the Slackware Live Edition. They are all based on my ‘liveslak‘ scripts and contain the latest Slackware-current dated “Sat Jun 23 04:57:41 UTC 2018“).
The available ISO variants on https://slackware.nl/slackware-live/latest/ (remember to add support for CACert to your system if you see certificate warnings!) are:

  • Full unmodified Slackware (32bit and 64bit).
  • Stripped-down XFCE (32bit as well as 64bit), this ISO will fit on a CDROM medium.
  • Slackware with MATE 1.20 instead of KDE4 (64bit). Thanks to Willy Sudiarto Raharjo for the packaging.
  • Slackware with Plasma 5 instead of KDE4 (64bit) to showcase the Plasma 5.13.1 release. This ISO also contains LibreOffice 6.0.4 and VLC 3.0.3 among many others.

The new liveslak version 1.2.0 has a couple of updates, most related to changes in package lists and work to keep the XFCE ISO below 700 MB, but there is one update that I should mention. I have added – but have not yet tested myself – the possibility to create a configuration file “/liveslak/slackware_os.cfg” and in that file, define some of the variables you would otherwise have to set through boot commandline parameters. Those variables are:
BLACKLIST, INIT, KEYMAP, LIVE_HOSTNAME, LOAD, LOCALE, LUKSVOL, NOLOAD, RUNLEVEL, TWEAKS, TZ, XKB and you define them, each on their own line, as “VARIABLE=value

Wayland?

This time the ‘testing’ branch in my ‘kown’ repository is focusing on the new Plasma Desktop 5.13, so there is no Wayland support in it now. For a future ‘testing’ release I’ll most likely re-visit Wayland but I want Patrick to add Plasma 5 to Slackware first so I can do my own stuff in just the ‘latest’ branch again and use ‘testing’ for actual tests.

Refreshing your USB stick instead of re-formatting

If you already use a Slackware Live USB stick that you do not want to re-format, you should use the “-r” parameter to the “iso2usb.sh” script. The “-r” or refresh parameter allows you to refresh the liveslak files on your USB stick without touching your custom content. If you want to modify other parameters of your USB stick, use the script “upslak.sh“. It’s main feature is that it can update the kernel on the USB stick, but it also can replace the Live init script. As with most (if not all) of my scripts, use the “-h” parameter to get help on its functionality.

Historical info on liveslak

More detail about the features of Slackware Live Edition can be found in previous posts here on the blog.

Have fun!

New Live ISOs for Slackware-current 20180209

blueSW-64pxI have uploaded a fresh set of ISOs for the Slackware Live Edition. They are (of course) based on the ‘liveslak‘ scripts and contain the latest Slackware-current dated “Fri Feb 9 19:59:54 UTC 2018“), which sports the new 4.14.18 kernel which is mitigated against the Meltdown and Spectre v1 vulnerabilities.
The ISO variants you will find at the download URL https://slackware.nl/slackware-live/latest/ (remember to add support for CACert to your system if you see certificate warnings!) are:

  • Full unmodified Slackware (32bit and 64bit).
  • Stripped-down XFCE (32bit as well as 64bit), this ISO will fit on a CDROM medium.
  • Slackware with MATE instead of KDE4 (64bit) to showcase the new 1.20 release of just 2 days ago. Thanks to Willy Sudiarto Raharjo for the packaging!
  • Slackware with Plasma 5 instead of KDE4 (64bit) to showcase the Plasma 5.12 Long Term Support (LTS) release. This ISO also contains LibreOffice 6.0.1 and VLC 3.0.0.

The new liveslak version 1.1.9.6 has seen only a few updates since the previous tag, they are related to the package additions in Plasma 5.

Wayland and X.Org

The PLASMA5 ISO image does not feature Wayland support this time, but if you want you can build an ISO version that does! Download my liveslak scripts and use the following command to generate a PLASMA5 ISO (you will find it in /tmp afterwards) with the additional packages from my ‘testing’ repositories that add Wayland support:

# git clone --depth 1 git://bear.alienbase.nl/liveslak.git
# cd liveslak
# ./make_slackware_live.sh -d PLASMA5 -m plasma5wayland -M -X

If you run a Wayland-enabled Slackware Live, you can login to a regular X.Org Plasma5 session but you can also choose the “Plasma – Wayland” session from the SDDM dropdown menu.

Refreshing your USB stick instead of re-formatting

If you already use a Slackware Live USB stick that you do not want to re-format, you should use the “-r” parameter to the “iso2usb.sh” script. The “-r” or refresh parameter allows you to refresh the liveslak files on your USB stick without touching your custom content. If you want to modify other parameters of your USB stick, use the script “upslak.sh“. It’s main feature is that it can update the kernel on the USB stick, but it also can replace the Live init script. As with most (if not all) of my scripts, use the “-h” parameter to get help on its functionality.

Historical info on liveslak

More detail about the features of Slackware Live Edition can be found in previous posts here on the blog.

Have fun!

What’s new for January? Plasma5 18.01, and more

When I sat down to write a new post I noticed that I had not written a single post since the previous Plasma 5 announcement. Well, I guess the past month was a busy one. Also I bought a new e-reader (the Kobo Aura H2O 2nd edition) to replace my ageing Sony PRS-T1. That made me spend a lot of time just reading books and enjoying a proper back-lit E-ink screen. What I read? The War of the Flowers by Tad Williams, A Shadow all of Light by Fred Chappell, Persepolis Rising and several of the short stories (Drive, The Butcher of Anderson Station, The Churn and Strange Dogs) by James SA Corey and finally Red Sister by Mark Lawrence. All very much worth your time.

And then work began in all earnest, and I tried to do the packaging activities for Slackware in the wee hours of the night:

  • wine got an update to 2.21 (the final one before the 3.0 release which I intend to package when the staging patches are also available)
  • chromium was updated to 63.0.3239.132 accompanied by the usual security fixes (these Google guys are pretty good at exposing vulnerabilities… think Meltdown and Spectre most recently)
  • Flash plugins for Mozilla and Chromium based browsers were updated to 28.0.0.137 – also accompanied by a security advisory
  • Lumina Desktop was updated to 1.4.0.p1 and I added two supporting packages as well: poppler-qt5 and acpilight.
  • Pale Moon got an update to 27.7.1

And most recently, I finished the January ’18 set of Plasma 5 packages for Slackware -current. My KDE-5_18.01 contains: KDE Frameworks 5.42.0, Plasma 5.11.5 and Applications 17.12.1. All based on Qt 5.9.3 and exclusive for Slackwarecurrent because as explained in the previous post, I stopped providing Plasma 5 updates for Slackware 14.2.
There’s again a choice of ‘latest‘ and ‘testing‘ where the ‘testing’ repository contains 17 recompiled packages that provide a Wayland compositor stack. This means you can have a working Plasma5 Wayland session if you use ‘testing‘ as opposed to ‘latest‘.
The ‘testing‘ repository is for… testing. Do not use those packages on a production environment unless you are familiar with Slackware, debugging graphical sessions and know your way around slackpkg/slackpkg+.

I will be short about the updates in this latest Plasma 5 package set: all the major components got stability fixes and it’s all not so exciting. In the ‘applications-extra’ division I updated most of the big boys: digikam, krita, partitionmanager, kstars, and the Kdevelop Suite. The kdevplatform package has been removed as it has been obsoleted.

The accompanying README file contains full installation & upgrade instructions. I have some further reading material in case you are interested in the Wayland functionality of the ‘testing’ repository: README.testing.

Package download locations are:

If you are interested in the development of KDE 5 for Slackware, you can peek at my git repository too.

A new Plasma5 Live ISO image (based on liveslak-1.1.9.5) has been uploaded to http://slackware.nl/slackware-live/latest/ , in case you want to try the new Plasma5 desktop out first in a non-destructive way. And for the curious: I sneakily added a VLC 3.0 preview package to the Plasma5 Live ISO (vlc-3.0.0.rc6 to be precise). Much improved compared to the vlc-2.2.x releases!

Have fun! Eric